Letting via Council's Housing Authority?

My tenants are vacating the flat end of this month and I find myself trying to find a new tenant in the middle of this crisis.

In the past finding a professional tenant has been so easy… however at the moment, I’m getting no sensible enquiries at all. In fact, I’m not even getting crazy enquiries.

I’ve been approached by a housing officer from a Council who would like to view the flat for a prospective tenant who would be someone at risk of homelessness who is under a new scheme he is working on. He mentioned this is a new scheme whereby the rent would be 100% guaranteed by the Council for one year and that after that first year, I should be able to decide whether to extend the contract or terminate it.

I’ve only ever had professional tenants. I just don’t know what to do… If the above were true, there’s no reason why not to give it a try, but I suspect it would be too naif to think there isn’t a catch somewhere…

Would it really be easy to get the tenant out of the property after one year once the Council no longer guarantees the rent or would this turn into a nightmare? Does anyone have any experience of this?

Would it be better to keep the flat empty and wait for a professional tenant to enquire bearing in mind this could take months in the middle of this crisis?

I would ask this of the council officer.( !) do I have any say or choice of your list of tenants? 2 Do i get to meet them? 3 if they do any damage will you pay for it? 4 If you find out they have LIED to you will I still get paid? … You get my drift? Once in, are you on your own,? council change policies and some officers s t r e t c h the truth

I have same experience as council approached me but I made it clear to them that I needed someone that has a job so that when they back off after a year, I will have peace of mind. Dont forget to ask them for incentive because council payment does not come through on time. It does take about 4weeks.

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Hi Olakemi… Many thanks for your reply.

I still haven’t signed up to the Council scheme, I’m agonising about it.
On paper it all sounds too good to be true, especially under current circumstances. They offer:

  • a two year contract with no break clause
  • the council would pay deposit and 7 week incentive in advance
  • the tenant would be someone in receipt of Universal Credit which would be set up to come straight to my account
  • the council would pay for comprehensive insurance with Help2Rent for one year (cover for unpaid rent, damages, all legal costs). I would be able to renew this insurance for year 2

The catch is they do not want to give me details of prospective tenant because of GDPR, but they say I could refuse someone I don’t like… They want me to sign up for the scheme before discussing details about who is on their list. Big leap of faith…

Have you ever had tenants under a scheme such as this? What was your experience? My main concern is ending up with someone with antisocial behaviour… My flat is in a nice block where quiet, considerate people live… I’ve no experience of letting to someone who is on benefit, I don´t know what I would be opening the door to…

I just sign someone up but I make sure that I did buttress that they need to have a job and I do not want any antisocial behaviour people. You are right, they will not share their identity however tell them what you want and they will screen people down for you before they will start viewing.
The only problem I have with council where I live is that it takes 28working days before the payment will reflect. So bear that in mind.

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If they wont share an identity, dont do . Its the only power you will have… If it sounds to good to be true…

Hi I used to live in a caravan on a holiday park I ended up there through a rogue landlord so it works both ways with tenants whilst I was in the caravan I saved and saved and I offered two months rent in advance but I kept getting refused because I was in a caravan no thought of my own like I say a rogue landlord however someone offered this landlord 12 months in advance but the landlord was greedy or had his own speculation about people unfortunate that he let this person rent his property but the trouble was he never asked where this tenant got this kind of money unfortunately the tenant was a drug dealer and turned his property into a drug farm and destroyed it so please don’t take people how you see them every one deserves a chance even the people with the council

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Nightmare situation. Just be very careful. I like to take my time choosing my own tenants and do all the referencing myself. The situation with the Corona virus is that HR department’s probably will also be in lock down too elongating the whole process. In my opinion I wouldn’t just take any one ( it depends how much you rely on the income ??. Our tenants have just handed their notice in and are leaving of their own accord to be nearer their work place but with all the new legislation on the horizon ( and not having the best of luck in the past with rogue tenants ) we have decided to sell. That said the Estate Agents are also in lockdown so can’t even value it !. The only choice we have is to sit tight. In my opinion I would not be too hasty to take the first person …

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The gentleman who owns the house next door to one of our rentals went down this path.

The tenant the Council/Social Services parachuted in 2 months did copious amounts of drugs, had severe pyschiatric episodes and eventually set fire to the house.

It took over 18 months to get everything sorted out and the house ready for re-habitation: 18 months lost rent for 2 months rent from the Council!

PS check what your Insurance Company has to say about this and your Mortgage Company if you have a mortgage on the property xx
PPS the gent next door now rents through an Agent in town and has some lovely tenants in there currently xx

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Our first tenants came recommended by the council and as such thought we would have some guarantees. However the tenant wrecked the house, left without paying rent and we had to chase the council to get some housing benefit paid. Nightmare. This was our first tenant and lesson learnt. We now always meet and check tenants as best we can. Not saying all council recommendations would be like that but would be very wary and make sure you do all the checks.

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If they come to YOU then they are having trouble finding a place for these tenants . That in itself tells you, leave them alone !!

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I’ve had a communication to the same effect as I currently have two houses empty at this time. Personally I wouldn’t risk it.
One has to remember that section 21 is ear marked to go and could be long gone in twelve months time leaving you with a section 8 which affords the tenant an opportunity to challenge any reason of eviction in front of a sympathetic judge.
It’s your choice but I would sooner have an empty property than a potentially high risk situation.

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i have reduce the rent by 32% to stop another landlord stealing my tenant.

Check the two agreements that may exist: yours with the Council that should state they are responsible for repairs and will re-instate to as good as new any damage done, and the model agreement they give to the tenant.

Also, if they will accept this, specify “the type of person allowed to rent shall only be professionals; those with no record of antisocial behaviour or drugs and no-one in the mental health system and that all prospective tenants are to be interviewed by the property owner before being allowed in the property”. You may have other criteria. I doubt if they will allow you to interview or check on prosective tenants - see the next paragraph.

The law as it affects us still applies to council tenants - the only problem is that, unless the Council Agreement is otherwise, you are not the landlord of the tenant. The Council is your tenant and they are sub-letting, so you have little or no say in what happens with those tenants: so have a thorough inventory report before you rent / lease to the Council. You still have to provide checks for gas, electrical, EPC, furniture fire resistance evidence, etc. unless the Council Agreement passes those responsibilities to them. There may be some responsibilities that they will insist on that you currently do not have to perform, like portable equipment testing (PAT).

You may still need to be a Licensed Landlord, if that scheme applies in your area now or in the future.

You must not agree to this until the Council have conducted a safety inspection: I did not rent this way because they asked me to fire proof under my stairs, put in a fire door that would reduce the risk of a fire alarm operating and being heard, all of which in my opinion increased the risk of harm to the tenants because of the design of the stairs, and these changes reduced storage space in the process!

Remember, the reason you have the property - for resale to make a profit at a future date, or for income.

Leaving it empty means paying Council Tax with the risk of squatters, deteriaration due to lack care, possible water leaks, no heating, etc.

Also, both Council and Private tenants can be awful or great or just troublesome, so it is pot luck even if you screen them first!

If it were not for increased fire risks, I would have taken the risk of using the Council - but could I trust them to fix the place up and redecorate and re-carpet when I returned home to live: some suggest “No!” That thought may get stronger as Councils need to cut back on their costs constantly and rules may change - but you do have an agreement with them, so hopefully it can be enforced in the courts.

So, talk to the council staff responsible for making agreements with you, put your questions in an email so you get the answers you need, and compare those answers to the agreement they propose that you sign, and check who has responsibility for what in the process.

Also remember that the government and local Councils are considering legally taking over empty properties so you may be forced to do this in any case in the near future due to the impact of Covid19.

its all onesided with the council ,keep away from it

Harsh but I’ve an empty house and feel guilty someone’s not using it as enquiries dried up. Just remind myself that as a full time nurse I’ve got enough to worry about so think I’m very lucky as the stress of having a naff tenant would send me over the edge.

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ann9 I know what you mean. The weight is so heavy on the side of council and tenant that I would not take the risk >Its not worth it even if they promise the moon. Once in the council will not care if you have a naff tenant . you will be on your own. You can be 90% sure it will end in tears . Yours.

Do NOT open this door it is one sided . You will regret it

Been there done that I wouldn’t take on another help to rent tenant if they were the only offer on earth.
Council make it seem straightforward and without risk it’s not. I would rather have an empty property than a whole heap of trouble

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